By Susan Frey
Advocates for expanding preschool to low-income 4-year-olds were disappointed with the 4,000 additional enrollment slots proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown in his 2015-16 budget released Friday.
The new slots are for the 2015-16 school year, but Brown had already agreed in the last legislative session to provide those slots, said Ted Lempert, president of the advocacy group Children Now. During that same session, an agreement was reached to eventually provide preschool slots for all the state’s low-income children. Another 31,500 slots at a cost of about $300 million would be needed. But the agreement was not specific on how many years it would take to reach that goal.
H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance, said the agreement addressed not only the number of slots, but also reimbursement rates for preschool providers, incentives to providers to improve the quality of preschool, and funding for a full day of care in addition to three hours of preschool, removing one of the barriers to working families enrolling their children in the program.